what makes one tick

what makes one tick

What makes one function characteristically, what motivates one, as in We've never figured out what makes these chess players tick. This expression alludes to tick in the sense of "function as an operating mechanism, such as a clock." [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]
See also: make, one, tick
References in periodicals archive ?
With an opportunity to delve deep into addiction to find what makes one tick, choosing to shun it in favour of a fastpaced drama with an unlikeable lead is disappointing.